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‘We want to prevent further erosion of our voting rights’: An event focused on voting rights will be held on Sunday


Public Meeting on Voting Rights

Center for Worker Justice (940 S Gilbert Ct) — Sunday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m.

Voters head to the polls at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center in Iowa City on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. — photo by Zak Neumann

A public meeting on voting rights will be held at the Center for Worker Justice on Sunday.

“We want keep educating people about the issues related to voting rights,” Sharon Lake said. “Particularly as the voter ID law is being rolled out, what that means for Iowa.”

Lake organized the two-hour long event with her fellow members of a group that meets regularly to discuss voting rights issues.

“It’s just kind of a small group of us on the eastside,” Lake said. “We started getting together in order to educate ourselves when the voter ID bill was first being discussed.”

In May, Gov. Branstad signed into law a bill imposing certain restrictions on voting, that included a new voter ID requirement.

“It’s important to keep these issues in front of people, because the situation with voting rights is not one that’s going to improve overnight,” Lake said. “So, when I got an email from the ACLU saying they were encouraging people to do grassroots events on Oct. 1, as a way of drawing attention to voting rights, I thought we need to do this, because we haven’t had an event like this before.”

The event will feature two speakers: Doug Jones of the University of Iowa and Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert.

Jones, an associate professor of computer science, is an expert on electronic voting and security issues, and the author of Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?

“He’s going to speak to the national context, and give us an overview of how the illegitimate use of voter fraud, which has been used as a way of pushing new voter ID laws, has replaced the legitimate issue of election integrity,” Lake said.

As auditor, Travis Weipert supervises elections in Johnson County.

“He was one of the more outspoken county auditors in Iowa, opposed the voter ID bill,” Lake explained. “Travis will be speaker about how voter ID is going to be implemented — what people need to be ready for and how it’s going to work. Also, he’ll speak about the 2018 legislative session, which is not that far away, in which there could be another group of bills on voting.”

Lake said she understands most people find the topic of voting regulations dull and difficult to understand, and tend not to pay attention to it except during election season. “But for us this a bedrock issue, voting is a fundamental right,” she said. “And we need to find ways to make our voices heard on the issue, because we want to prevent further erosion of our voting rights.”

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